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'Local farms and food bill' introduced in Congress

A "local farm and food bill" was introduced in the U.S. Congress on Tuesday, November 1, 2011 that is designed to "help farmers and ranchers by addressing production, aggregation, processing, marketing, and distribution needs to access growing local and regional food markets," according to a statement by the National Sustainable Agriculture Coalition.

The legislation, sponsored by Sherrod Brown of Ohio and Representative Chellie Pingree of Maine, as well as 35 original co-sponsors, is intended to be included in the 2012 Farm Bill.

The bill would also support consumers by improving access to healthy food, the coalition's statement said. "The measure provides secure farm bill funding for critically important programs that support family farms, expand new farming opportunities, create rural jobs, and invest in the local food and agriculture economy," the statement said.

“We applaud Senator Brown and Congresswoman Pingree for introducing this legislation,” said Helen Dombalis, a Policy Associate with the National Sustainable Agriculture Coalition.  “The Local Farms, Food, and Jobs Act revises and expands existing federal farm programs to ensure that they effectively foster local and regional food system development."

Along with the National Sustainable Agriculture Coalition, other groups groups supporting the legislation are the National Farmers Union, National Organic Coalition, Community Food Security Coalition, American Farmland Trust, Center for Science in the Public Interest, and National Farm to School Network.

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